Last Week’s Links

After a Hard Youth, Mom Found Beauty in Making Art

“Here’s proof that it’s never too late for dreams to be realized.”

Candy Schulman recalls how her mother, a self-educated traditional 1950s housewife, “discovered her true talent in her 60s, leaving behind a permanent vision for the next two generations.”

At an extraordinary Olympics, acts of kindness abound

The only Olympic sport I truly enjoy watching is swimming. Other than that, more than the medal counts I care about the kindness counts:

A surfer jumping in to translate for the rival who’d just beaten him. High-jumping friends agreeing to share a gold medal rather than move to a tiebreaker. Two runners falling in a tangle of legs, then helping each other to the finish line.

The Surprising Benefits of Talking to Strangers

In the past decade and a half, professors have begun to wonder if interacting with strangers could be good for us too: not as a replacement for close relationships, but as a complement to them. The results of that research have been striking. Again and again, studies have shown that talking with strangers can make us happier, more connected to our communities, me

My Phone Doesn’t Realize My Mother Is Dead

Karolina Waclawiak expresses an understandable ambivalence over the painful memories and emotions that her phone’s algorithms churn up when they bring up her past photos. Waclawiak’s thoughts move beyond the case of her mother’s death to incorporate all the jumbled emotions we all felt over the past 18 months or so.

Who Invented the Pencil?

Here’s the answer to a question I didn’t know I needed answered until I saw this article: “According to NPR, a Swiss naturalist named Conrad Gessner created the first depiction of a pencil in 1565.”

‘Grandmother, Where’d You Get So Smart?’ ‘Living, Baby. Living.’

“A woman with little formal education taught her granddaughter an important lesson.”

Mandy Shunnarah marvels over how quickly and confidently her grandmother from rural Alabama, without a college education, continued throughout her life to conquer the daily newspaper’s crossword puzzles.

Nervous about getting back out there and making new friends? Here are some tips

The pandemic not only kept us from interacting with family and friends; it downright made us afraid to do so. Now that our world is beginning to open up once again, “how do you overcome these anxieties, get back out there and make new friends?”

Madalyn Amato, an intern at the Los Angeles Times, consulted some experts and offers their advice.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Why Creepy Neighbors Are Perfect for Domestic Thrillers

How many times have you read a good thriller or mystery novel involving the new neighbors next door? Novelist Allison Dickson, author of The Other Mrs. Miller, explains why neighbors are such good novelistic material.

the one thing that might make your neighbors more interesting fodder for a thriller than family is that when relations turn sour on the other side of the street or fence, there’s no easy way out. You can usually hang up on problematic family member and ignore their calls for a few days, but the dwelling next door and your new mortal enemy living in it isn’t going anywhere. Whether by lease or mortgage, you’re both invested for the long term and have staked your claim. You have to find a way to resolve things, or risk of becoming a prisoner in your own home.

SLOBS, REJOICE: WHY YOU SHOULDN’T CLEAN YOUR MESSY DESK

I had heard quite a while ago that a messy desk is often a sign of creativity, but it’s always nice to have my excuse for a messy desk reinforced.

Experts say disorder stimulates creativity because physical artifacts can trigger people to draw connections between separate ideas — ones already in your head and seemingly unrelated — to generate novel solutions. It’s a process known as “psychological bricolage,” according to Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, a professor of management and organizations at the University of Michigan.

Is the Internet Making Writing Better?

As a former English teacher, I was appalled when textspeak such as “where r u?” entered everyday speech. But in this article Katy Waldman reviews Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by linguist Gretchen McCulloch. 

“It’s only with the rise of the Internet that a truly casual, willfully ephemeral prose has ascended—and become central to daily life,” Waldman writes.

It’s only with the rise of the Internet that a truly casual, willfully ephemeral prose has ascended—and become central to daily life.

And do you know the difference between lol and LOL? It’s a subtle but real difference, according to McCulloch.

Electric Reads Set in the ’60s

For those of us who came of age in the 1960s:

November Road by Lou Berney

In these 16 historical fiction novels set in the ’60s, authors tackle some of the decade’s transformations and predicaments, its quandaries and triumphs. Each read is a great place to begin untangling the decade’s legacy.

I would add to this list November Road by Lou Berney.

ARE YOU CLIMATE HOMESICK? HE’S GOT A WORD FOR THAT

Solastalgia describes the feeling of distress caused by environmental change, and it was coined by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht. “It was important to give that feeling a name because it was missing from our language,” Albrecht says from his small farm in Australia’s Hunter Valley region in the eastern state of New South Wales.

Bonus: See also Every Day is Earth Day: 365 Books to Start Your Climate Change Library

© 2019 by Mary Daniels Brown